The Production Department
Whether its a 30 sec clip or a feature film epic, the key to success is careful planning in all departments - and the production department is the centre of all planning and communication. Show me a happy, organised production department and I'll show you a smooth running production.
Working with your group
Film making is an ideal activity for groups, including groups of mixed ability, as the jobs to be done are many and varied. In working out who does what, you should decide whether everyone must stick to one job for the duration, or if rotating jobs might be better.
If you only have one day, one person one job is probably best, but if, for example, you have more than one student who REALLY wants a shot on camera, you could try half day rotation.
On longer projects it can be useful to give students a different job on each day to help them understand how all the jobs are important to the success of the film. It can be a good ploy, too, to get people who are reluctant to try technical roles (all too often the girls) to do so - safe in the knowledge it's only for a day. Working in this way, students often acknowledge they get far more from the experience than if they only do their first choice job.
As your shoot progresses, students are able to advise each other on the jobs they have done, and you are building flexibility and confidence for future projects. If rotating jobs, ask the students to nominate 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice of jobs and give them the chance to do at least one day on a first or second choice. If you need sanctions to encourage good behaviour you can have the student work toward their first choice of job.
Film sets are a kind of democratic dictatorship which should work very quietly. The director has the final word on all things creative, although if she has any sense she will take advice from all heads of department. Once she has made a decision this is what everyone must do - unless, of course, it is unsafe.
So, once you have your production set up and jobs allocated, try to impress on students that they must respect each others' roles. During filming and rehearsals the only voices should be the actors, the 1st assistant director and the director. The rest of the crew should do their jobs, watch and listen - if they see something they think is important they can point it out to the 1st assistant director or the director between takes.